THIS WEEK’S OTHER FEATURED BOOKS, “SWIMMING WITH MAYA,” BY ELEANOR VINCENT AND “EMERGENCY ANTHEMS,” BY ALEX GREEN, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST.
THE BOOK: Not Another Superhero.
PUBLISHED IN: November 2015
THE AUTHOR: Tara Lynn Thompson.
THE PUBLISHER: Create Space.
SUMMARY: Samantha Addison remembers the mugger. And his gun. How he pointed it at her head. When he pulled the trigger. She remembers everything, except how she survived.
But it’s only Monday. She’s embarking on a week of near misses and a mystery growing with each attempt on her life.
Why would anyone want to kill the editor of a puff piece magazine? How could she be a threat to anyone? Will the attacks stop? Or will one finally succeed?
Through all the hair-raising events, a man in a black hood keeps saving the day before vanishing without telling her anything. Including his name.
Who is this guy? What is his connection to these events? And can he keep her alive?
It’s a race against the clock to solve a mystery more outlandish than a faceless hero in a hood. In the end, her survival may depend entirely on whom she can trust. And whom she absolutely cannot.
THE BACK STORY: It was during the vampire craze, initially. That’s where the first seeds of it came. I honestly didn’t understand the obsession with an immortal being that drank blood. The darkness of it bothered me. The death surrounding it bothered me. The fact he probably had a serious case of halitosis really bothered me.
There were appealing elements, for sure. The mystery, the eternity, the abilities. But, again, the feeding on life part. Not give life. Not sacrifice for life. Absorb it. And this is what women want? This is what they desired to find?
Nah. I didn’t buy it. What women wanted was true romance. Adventure? Yes. Danger? Sure. Fun? Yep. Blood? My bet was they could do without it.
Women want to be loved. They long for true devotion. So, what does that look like?
I set out to define love, in a way. At least to define it according to me. As I began to meditate on the subject and watch it in others who lived out true devotion over decades, the answer came to me and it was far simpler than imagined. Love mean sacrificing yourself.
That’s love. That’s what it really is.
Now was the hard question for a writer: How did I illustrate that? Also, while illustrating it, how did I make it fun and exciting and humorous and entertaining? How did you take a reader on an adventure about love? How did you help them that love and darkness do not coexist? They are diametrically opposed.
Well, minus the tights, how about in a superhero story?
WHY THIS TITLE?: This is Not Another Superhero story. Not like what we all expect. The premise sets the different tone immediately – focusing on the love interest of a superhero instead of the superhero personally – but that’s only the plot. It’s about more than that. It’s about what comprises a superhero. Beyond the abilities. Beyond the flash. What’s at the heart of it all? The heart. Of course. Always. It’s about love. And what, truly, is love? It’s self-sacrifice. Complete and total.
What I hope to inspire in my readers is, not only a desire to experience that kind of love, but to exhibit it. To be their kind of superhero to someone else. To their spouse or children or family or friends or neighbors or strangers or community. To not be just another superhero, but to be a different kind of superhero. Their kind. To define that term for themselves. To stand out with those qualities we all associate with the superhero character – giving of themselves, involved in the lives of others, serving others to great personal consequence.
This is NOT Another Superhero story. This is YOUR superhero story.
WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? It’s beautifully sarcastic. Maybe I find sarcasm beautiful because I am sarcastic. These odd, rather out of place, thoughts are always striking me at the most awkward and inappropriately timed moments. What would happen if I shared them? Hopefully some laughter. Some fun. And some bonding because I know I’m not alone here.
Admit it. Your inner voice is sarcastic, too.
Beyond that, the story is fast-paced, it’s adventurous, it takes us into a journey of life, love, ridiculousness and splendidly likable characters, all while being free of any excessive vulgarity, sexual explicitness, and, really, harsh darkness. This will leave you hopeful, smiling, and, as one reader told me, ready to get back into that world and read it again.
“Wow. I don’t like cliffhangers but this was worth it. Amazing dialogue. Mysterious man in black. Sarcastic heroine. This book has it all.”
“The main character in the book, Samantha Addison, is just living life until one night, everything changes, and it’s never the same. This book kept me on the edge of my seat, it kept me guessing. I also loved Samantha’s personality; funny, no-nonsense and believable. My only problem with the book is that it ENDED! I must have more! This is the first non-fiction book I’ve read in 10 years and I absolutely cannot wait for another from this author. And although the book has ended, I have a feeling there is way more to this story. I need to understand why, how and what’s next. This book made me laugh out loud and kept me flying through the pages. Overall, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves mystery, romance and living on the edge. This book was well worth my Saturday.”
“I loved this book and sincerely can’t wait for the story to continue! Its witty dialogue and mysterious plot kept me laughing and intrigued. It’s a great read!”
“What a fun, suspenseful, interesting and entertaining read! From the first pages till the end I was captured, intrigued, and drawn in. The dialogue, the thinking, the action…all superb. I’m looking forward to many more stories from Tara Lynn. She’s got the goods.”
AUTHOR PROFILE: Life is a great story, one that requires verbs, adjectives, and a few made up words just to keep people guessing. I get a sharp, rather devious zing, when I keeping people guessing.
From early on, during my way, way, way back days as a 19-year-old beat reporter, I’ve been confounding people with my descriptive writing. At first I thought the confounding was a compliment. Mostly, I think they were just annoyed.
“I don’t appreciate needing a dictionary when I sit down to read my paper, young lady,” one reader once complained, which only made me feel exuberant (adj., means “intensely happy”). It wasn’t that I had an abnormally, or even that impressive, vocabulary. I just loved mixing words into a heap of puzzle pieces and seeing who wanted to dive in and find the corner.
My early beginnings in print taught me many things, two of which I’ll point out now:
1) People are fascinating.
2) Writing rules are for the timid.
For over a decade, I honed my interviewing skills until I had developed a canny, if not at times creepy, way of reading people. Or at least observing them. Their personalities, quirks, oddities, passions, language, all of it I recorded in my head like an unhackable Cloud. One day I knew it would all come rushing back out again.
Throughout my career, as I migrated into the neatly stacked boxes of business communication, the unquenchable thirst of marketing strategy, and the tight squeeze of advertising writing, I never lost my love of the character. Of their story. And of their gripping adventure, if I could ever toss them into that heap of puzzle pieces.
This is my one day.
Not Another Superhero, for me, is an adventure of love, honor, and danger, if it happened to the quirkiest girl in the neighborhood. She’s our heroine. And the culmination of what fear, doubt, and hesitation does to our life when we give it value. Or even a breath to speak.
She will, however, prove to us she’s an overcomer. But, first, she’s got to prove it to herself.
AUTHOR COMMENTS: For me, this book is more than a book. It’s a belief. It’s the concept of giving and self-sacrifice and being a hero to others. That’s the kind of behavior I hope to inspire. That’s the kind of behavior I hope to practice.
As a first step, I’m giving away a portion of all proceeds to charity. I don’t have only one picked out, but several. I plan to donate continually and to charities as I see need arise.
By purchasing the book, readers can be part of living out the life of a superhero to someone else. And, if they have a charity that is near and dear to them, I want to know about it! I may be convinced to donate there next. Also, I’ll be posting all the donations and the impact my readers make so they can see the huge difference even a small donation can make to a single child, or impoverished family, or suffering individual.
Of all the things I have loved about writing this book – and what I joy it has been! – I am most thrilled at the prospect of using the book to ultimately help others.
Being an author is so cool.
There are things in life worth dying for. Toothpaste isn’t one of them.
Freedom, justice, truth—these are virtues mankind has sacrificed to obtain. Or protect. Or propagate. They are ideals worthy of blood when little else is.
Wars for these virtues are honorable. Idealized. For higher causes and the greater good. They draw the maiden to the hero, the hero to the battle lines, and the coward to obscurity. And they have nothing to do with toothpaste, but toothpaste is what had me in this mess.
“Scream, and I shoot you sooner than I want. Fight me, and I shoot you sooner than I want. Bore me, and I’ll shoot you now.” The man used the gun in his hand to punctuate each point. When he said “shoot,” a juicy whistle escaped the gap in his front teeth.
It had been a typical Monday night until he grabbed me outside Walgreens and dragged me into a nearby alley. There I met his Russian handgun, Makarov. From then to now, he had been droning on about “fun,” “games,” and “rules” while rhythmically moving his pistol from one of my eye sockets to the next like a music conductor mugging a woman in an alley. Call it shock, fear, or badly timed disinterest, but I couldn’t focus on anything except a painting on the brick wall behind him, advertising “Peterson’s. The City’s Best Ice Cream Since 1954.”
“Stay very still.” He gripped my chin and turned my face from side to side. “I can work with this.”
His loosened his shoulders like a player up to bat. “Time to set the scene.”
I had the momentary thought of That doesn’t sound good before he lit my cheekbone with his hand.
Before I could cover my face, he pop, pop, popped my cheekbone three more times in rapid succession. During the first two, I could still feel the surprise on my face. Seared on there, really. By the third, surprise was over.
In a move uncharacteristically my own, I snarled and sniffed defiantly. I have no idea what I thought it would accomplish. “You son of a—”
“Now, now.” He tapped me playfully on the nose. “Don’t start whining now. We haven’t even gotten started yet.”
Stepping back, the mugger tilted his head in thought while humming a sound like old men gnawing on pot roast. With patches of hair sporadically sprouting from his lumpy head, he looked like a pot roast gnawing on an old man.
There had to be a way to get out of here. Or get help. Or get a weapon. The alley, however, didn’t have rush hour. All the businesses were closed. All the people were home for the night. All the police were in construction zones with their radar guns. I wouldn’t be here, either, if I hadn’t needed light bulbs, laundry detergent, lip balm, and, yes, toothpaste.
I glanced around the geriatric lighting in the alley for anything I could use as a weapon. All I spotted was a crumpled McDonald’s coffee cup and a hailstorm of cigarettes. If I could get him to smoke them, I could take him out with coronary heart disease in twenty to twenty-five years.
“Stand up straight and let me see.” He grabbed my blouse and wrenched me into a ramrod position. He eyes roamed my face while he tsked, tsked. “Not done.”
He slapped my face in the same spot as before, while clucking his tongue to the rhythm of “Wild World,” the Cat Stevens version.
“The tears are good. Keep that going.”
I stopped crying just to be difficult.
“Wait.” He leaned forward and exhaled the pizza he was digesting. “You don’t wear eyeliner? What are you, some kind of prude? Don’t you want sex appeal?”
“I don’t understand.” I spoke now that the Peterson ice cream advertisement had lost my interest. “What do you want from me?”
He answered with a backhand of such force I declared it a home run.
“I need dark smudges under your eyes!” His nostrils flared. “Do you understand me?”
I really didn’t.
That’s the last time I ever wear waterproof mascara.
Slumped over, I took short, spiky breaths until the worst of the pain passed. Blood dribbled from my lip down my chin and marched single-file onto the alley floor. Meanwhile, the crazy man pacing with a gun continued pacing with a gun.
I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t carry a weapon. I didn’t know self-defense. And I was alone. Spitting the metallic taste out of my mouth, I straightened up and glared with my undefined eyes. “What the hell do you want?”
He had a smile that needed my toothpaste. “We’re getting to that.”
I blame this entire night on my underwear. They were my laundry day pair, the pair you wear when all others are in the wash. Last year an old college girlfriend had gotten the man of her dreams. Because I agreed to stand next to her wearing a dress the color of phlegm, she gave me personalized undies.
Not that I’m fatalistic, but when I opened her gift, my first thought had been, What if I die wearing these, and this is how they identify my body?
Across the street, the Memorial Park Cemetery’s twenty-pipe Deagan chimes sounded off the half hour. The hollow clang billowed in a fog of sound that settled into the alley.
Memorial Park Cemetery, the largest cemetery in the surrounding five states, had been a work assignment. They were advertising a new crematorium. A nine-foot banner at the gate said so by stating, ever so simply, “New Crematorium.”
They had hired Promotions Magazine to get the word out. Finalizing the client’s contract was my responsibility as managing editor. I’d been brainstorming all day to find an angle for their first article. Here’s the headline I came up with: “Memorial Park Cemetery Buys Oven for Bodies.”
The funeral director, Christopher “like the Peppermint Patty” York, and I had talked late into the afternoon about their advertising budget, the articles Promotions Magazine would produce for that budget, and the slant we’d put on those articles.
Good press is never hard to find when you’ve got the cash.
After our meeting, York invited—commanded—me to walk the cemetery and experience “how peaceful it is.” The cemetery business loves the word “peace” almost as much as it loves roasting bodies at 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit.
I took a walk around their 280 acres. When the late afternoon heat smothered my face, I thought again about the crematorium. Above the entrance gate, the advertising banner gyrated in the wind so I would never forget.
I get it. An oven.
The uneven hills, each one hiding an army of the undead, rose up to meet me. I walked with the hot, heavy wind breathing down my neck, a heat unrelenting even in the month of October. Maybe, even in life, we’re all one flick of a mortician’s wrist from being slowly baked in an oven.
Then I met Gene Andreas. He was buried on a lively slope, his life having ended after twenty-one years on some foreign plot of land during World War II. Taking my sweet time because I believed I had it in abundance, I leaned against a nearby elm with its mournful mouth and sinuous arms and chatted with Gene. He needed the company, and I wasn’t in the working mood.
It was Monday. Don’t expect much from me on Monday.
On my way out, with the sun crushing the horizon, I made the fateful decision to cross the street and run into Walgreens. One minute in. The next minute out. I needed a few essentials, and walking saved gas.
Looking back on it now, walking also made me ripe pickings for a mugging. From now on, screw the planet and my bank account.
Movie characters on the verge of being attacked always have this sense of foreboding, as if they unconsciously know someone is behind them. They move faster and walk more aggressively. Glances are thrown over their shoulders. Doors are jerked open. In the background, music cues everyone that danger approaches.
I never felt that. I purchased my items and headed back to my vehicle in idiotic oblivion.
Somewhere an entire theater of moviegoers was screaming, “Don’t go near the alley!”
Walking in the quiet of the cemetery, alone in the city, unbothered or harassed, my day had disabled my usual paranoia. I wasn’t on high alert because of that peacefulness.
Maybe the dead rest in peace because peace killed them.
A “Hot, HOT, Heat Wave Shoe Sale” in one of the shopping center’s featureless windows put my face to the glass and my back to the parking lot. Before I could react, a gun introduced itself to my ribs.
“I’ve got a little cash.” By “little” I meant twelve dollars and change.
The jerk scolded me for being “foreseeable,” but took the money anyway before digging in my pockets for more where even a seamstress wouldn’t know to look. He found a ticket stub and loose lint. “Did you like it?” He held up the washed-out stub.
I couldn’t even remember what the movie had been about. An alien invasion? A national disaster? A not-so-thinly-veiled political statement?
“Sure.” Maybe I could create an emotional connection. We could talk about movies we like and cheese we’ve digested. “It was entertaining.”
“It was dog turds.”
New direction. “Entertaining in its awfulness.” Was he buying this? “What was the worst part of it for you?”
He had squinty eyes. I couldn’t see the color, not in this lighting, but they were dime sized and wrinkled at the corners like they’d been wadded up into a ball and then smoothed back out again. When he got annoyed, like now, they shrank.
“Talking about it. It bores me. And when I’m bored, I end the game. You got me?”
I didn’t but nodded anyway. It wasn’t like I was dying to talk to him, either. Let me rephrase that: not “dying,” “desperate.”
“Now let’s have a little fun, you and I.” He pulled a phone out of his skinny black jeans. He also wore a short-sleeved, black knit shirt, the kind you wear to wick sweat away from your armpits and everyone knows that’s why you wear it. With his right hand, he screwed the gun into my ribs as if he feared the bullet might tucker itself out on the way down the barrel. The phone, in his left hand, went into my face.
“You’re filming me?”
“Of course. But don’t be like everyone else.” The gap in his teeth hissed. “No pleading for your life. No begging. No whines or sobbing or asking me why. That’s all been done before. It’s remake hell,
OK? This needs to be fresh, raw, all your emotions bared. This is your moment. Don’t hold back. Bring everything you are to the front. Let it free. Dazzle the audience. But most importantly, dazzle me.”
Shivering under the metropolitan cloud cover, I considered my options. I had no weapon, no training, no one rushing to my rescue, and no handy cyanide pill to shove in his tooth, I played along.
“This doesn’t look very believable.” I flittered my fingers around the alley. “A dark alley. Seems expected.”
He squinted what there was of his eyes. “It works for me, but what do you suggest?”
I paused for authenticity. “Something unforeseen. A place you would never expect a mugging. A more dangerous scenario. More daring.” More public. “Like an airport terminal. Or the mall food court. Something like that.”
“Uh-huh, uh-huh. You think I’m an idiot?”
Instead of launching my cheekbone into Wyoming, he laughed. When he did, a whistle accompanied, as if two people were chuckling—one normal sized, the other a mini.
“Spontaneous. Spunky.” His eyes were lost in the crinkles. “I like it. Keep the audience guessing. And now, to the show. I want revolutionary, not cocky. Keep that in mind. Now, before you say anything more, you should know all the rules. First, screaming will get a bullet in your belly. So none of that. Second, be original. If I’ve heard it before, I’ll shoot off your kneecap. Third, don’t bore me. That’ll end the game instantly.” Hard lines around his mouth tightened. “You don’t want the game to end.”
With that, he released that tooth gap back into society. “‘That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time.’ John Stuart Hill.” Taking a half step back, he studied my appearance, and his gun nodded its satisfaction. “Your move.”
Bank robbers are, I assume, under a time crunch. There are silent alarms to consider, not to mention security guards, cameras, marked bills, and the patience of your average getaway driver.
Mugging needn’t be done in haste. Here was a man with no tomorrow and no end to today. We had all night. All I had to do was not bore him. The first question I wanted to ask was, “If I win this game, do I get to live?” But I assumed that had been asked before, and I loved, I mean loved, my kneecaps.
“Oh, also, saying or doing nothing will also end the game. Because it bores me. Never, ever forget that part. I hate being bored.” He tapped the barrel of the Makarov against my forehead impatiently. “Do you understand this game?”
Couldn’t he give a girl a minute to think?
His head tilted, as if he used his brain like a magic eight ball by shaking the dark liquid inside and seeing what banal answer floated to the top. “Do you? Understand?”
He wanted to play a game? Fine. Let’s play.
“A child of five would understand.” I raised my voice and talked over my shoulder as if to an assistant off stage. “Send someone to fetch a child of five.”
His eyes widened. Before I could brace myself for a gunshot, he laughed, a noise with the cadence and warmth of a machine gun.
“Wait…I’ve got this one.” He dabbed his eyes with the hand holding the Russian. “Groucho Marx, right?”
Give the man a tootsie roll. I had a Groucho Marx desk calendar at work, and that had been the quote for September.
When the laughing stopped, I earned another backhand.
Whenever he hit me, he never sacrificed his phone. Instead, the gun went into his waistband when he needed a free hand. The video was his priority.
Those poker tells will getcha.
“Now, don’t glare at me. You shouldn’t have yelled.” He pouched out his lower lip. “The slap was to spare your life. It was mercy. And mercy only comes on a lark.” He tapped the gun on my nose. “I wouldn’t bet my last penny on a lark.”
I was now officially in the fighting mood. “Yeah, yeah, it’s all fun and games until I shoot you with your own gun.”
“Ah, better!” He smiled a lot for a cold-blooded killer. “Who said that?”
“Me. Just now.” A smile cracked my lip. Here was my plan: I needed him to hit me. Not a great plan, I’ll admit, but it had merit.
If he would hit me, even once more, he would shove that gun back into his pants and free his hand. It gave me only a moment, but without the skill set to turn a discarded coffee cup into a shank, a moment was the only strategy I had. It would give me an opening to attack.
“You’re worried about being bored?” I arched an eyebrow. “Not your biggest problem, you know. That would be your bad breath. There are these little things called mints.”
His pleasure lessened a fraction. Samantha: one.
“This is an interesting tactic.” He tongued his Letterman gap. “Fruitless. But interesting.”
“And what about my boredom? You think I find this fascinating?” I had been winding my plastic bag of goodies around my wrist tighter and tighter until my hand throbbed. This I did in preparation to launch my offensive. Toothpaste, detergent, light bulbs, and lip balm did not a weapon make, but a modern girl understands improvisation.
“Scary.” I blew that off. “Sure.” Hit me! “But so predictable. I mean, a gun? An alley? Really?” Hit me! “You couldn’t come up with a better weapon? At least something more American, like a Colt.”
Now that I needed him to be vulgar and abusive, he slapped his knee with pleasure.
I pushed harder.
“I’ve never been mugged before. This is my first time. And I’m already disinterested. How do you expect to keep the attention of your audience?” Hit me! “My elderly grandmother spends all day quilting and watching The Price is Right, and she would have dozed off ten minutes ago.”
His amusement didn’t end abruptly. Instead, it fizzled out.
“Let me ask you a question.” He scratched his shadowed eyelid. “Did you spend your time wisely?”
I didn’t know where he was headed with this, but I didn’t like it. “What does that mean?”
“Your time. Your life. Did you do everything you wanted to do? Experience all of life, all the flavors. Did you experience the transcendent sleep of the self-actualized?”
Good freakin’ grief.
“In our final hours,” he continued, speaking as if standing in a great lecture hall instead of an alley off Fifty-First and Memorial, “we become the most of ourselves. Our fullness. For those unable to discover it on their own, it’s a gift. Mine to give. Even if you possess it for only a moment. Do you feel it?”
“Look around you. Aren’t the colors remarkably brighter? Everything more in focus? Even the smells—you can detect them all, can’t you?”
“This moment is a blessing. Feel all of it. Feel as much as you can before I take it all away.”
His postulating didn’t interest me. Whatever we was saying, whatever it meant, I couldn’t care less if it didn’t prompt him to hit me.
“You’re delusional.” I spoke without conviction or even interest. Nothing would goad him more than to be dismissed. So I dismissed him. “Look at yourself. You’re pointing a gun to my head. Do you really think you’re holding the moral high ground here?”
I realized too late that I’d given him exactly what he wanted—a last line.
He shrugged, a sure sign I’d overplayed my hand. “It was only a question.” He raised his gun. “Game over.”
WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon.
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